Breaking News, Wed 28th January, 2009 – Students today occupied a room in the Law & Social Sciences building in a protest in solidarity with the people in Gaza, in light of recent events in the area.
Shortly after a screening of ‘Peace, Propoganda and the Promised Land’, a film about alleged bias in media reports from the region, an open letter from the protesters was read out, which listed their demands to the university and their intention to maintain the protest indefinitely until said demands were met.
The list, which received widespread applause from the (politically sympathetic) audience, included requests for a statement from the university condemning Israel’s recent military actions, academic and financial support for Palestinian students, and an institutional ban on purchasing the products of companies involved in the conflict. A promise for a more definitive list of demands was included, to come after the protesters hav managed to fully discuss the details; the current list can be read on the protest’s blog (see below).
Armed with sleeping bags, food, books, laptops, art supplies and legal advice, the protest is planned to continue until the university either aquiesce to the demands, or a settlement is reached through negotiation. The protesters join at least 16 other universities across the country with similar protest movements, of which two are known to have declared success. These are at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the London School of Economics, King’s College London, Birmingham, Essex Warwick, Sussex, Oxford, Manchester Metropolitan, Cambridge, Leeds, Newcastle, Queen Mary’s, and Bradford Universities.
The classroom occupied, B62 in the Law & Social Sciences building, is a heavily used lecture theatre with classes usually scheduled throughout every day of each week. Campus security discovered the protesters shortly after the film had finished screening, and after establishing the situation appeared to depart without consequence. The university has not yet made an official statement.
More news to follow shortly as the situation develops.
UPDATE (29/01/09) – The university has reacted to the occupation by rescheduling or canceling all lectures timetabled in the occupied room, according to Stephen Dudderidge, Director of Student Operations and Support.
A statement on Occupation Nottingham says that, “this is against our wishes and despite our continued reassurance that we would create no disruption. The decision was also made without the University contacting the appropriate lecturers, some of whom had already expressed their willingness to conduct classes as usual in communication with us.”
This follows the course of action taken by other universities around the country. No official statement from the university has been released as of yet, however.
Photographs: Ian Steadman
The protesters have set up a running blog with commentary on the events and more information on the protest: http://occupationnottingham.wordpress.com